Aug 1, 2011
Posthumous recordings can be a mixed bag. When we’ve lost important musicians, sometimes we’ll get the release of material they we working on before their death that needs some polishing (i.e. Miles Davis’ Doo-Bop), or perhaps material that their record company was unwilling to release for commercial reasons (i.e. John Coltrane’s most avant-garde experiments like Interstellar Space). Sometimes,, we get hidden gems that are just waiting for the right time to come to light.
In the case of Sir Roland Hanna, who passed away in 2002, the last holds true, and Colors From a Giant’s Kit is a fresh look at a legend. These fourteen solo piano tracks were recorded during the 1990s and as late as 2002 by IPO Record's Bill Sorin, before the label existed. We get five Hanna originals, including the driving title track and the witty “20th Century Rag”, as well as the traditional “Blues”. The covers are the highlights of the album, though. “Lush Life” can give pianists fits as a solo piece, but here Hanna plays it with great expression and romanticism. The same is true of “My Romance”, as he performs an elegant take on a classic ballad.
Two Coltrane tunes, “Moment’s Notice” and “Naima” are given arrangements that allow Hanna to show his technical virtuosity. The former is a fiery workout, and the latter given a delicate reading with gliding left hand. The music – and the memory of the man – live on.